Financial strain may help curb prescription drug use

Friday, June 01, 2012 by: PF Louis
Tags: prescription drugs, purchases, money

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(NaturalNews) The economy's decline into an ever widening abyss may have one silver lining: less can be spent on pharmaceutical drugs. With unemployment increasing while menial jobs that are available don't offer insurance, more people will be depending on government insurance programs.

Now some of those programs are looking into increasing or tightening restrictions on what they'll pay out for medical expenses and pharmaceutical drug costs. One proposal not yet put into effect is the undergoing study at Penn State College of Medicine along with Dr. Robert Rosenheck of the Yale School of Medicine.

The ongoing study has thus far made one report regarding off label use of anti-psychotic drugs for patients of less serious psychological or behavioral symptoms. Off label simply means using an FDA approved drug for a purpose other than for what it was approved.

What the researchers have discovered so far

The researchers current findings have been reported in a recent issue of the American Journal of Managed Care. Looking into patient files in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for 2003, the researchers discovered high amounts of anti-psychotic drugs prescribed for off label purposes.

Douglas Leslie, PhD, professor of public health sciences, stated the study's purpose. "Medicaid prescription drug programs covered 75 percent of all antipsychotic prescription medications in the United States in 2002. Reducing off-label antipsychotic use may generate savings with little impact on patient outcomes."

"Little impact on patient outcomes" referred to the over 57 percent of Medicaid patients prescribed ant-psychotic drugs who were not diagnosed as schizophrenic or bipolar. During 2003, Medicaid covered 372,000 patients who were prescribed anti-psychotic drugs.

Out of the 57 percent (214,113) who were not schizophrenic or bipolar, 35 percent had minor depression, 25.4 percent major depression, 23.2 percent were without any mental disorder, 18.8 percent had behavioral issues, and 16.2 percent anxiety disorders.

A large part of Big Pharma's multi-billion dollar psychotropic drug market is covered by state Medicaid programs. Anti-psychotic drugs are the most expensive and most dangerous. Excluding payments for anti-psychotic drugs prescribed off label will save states money and decrease harmful side effects for patients.

Currently, anti-psychotic drugs are the most drugs used off label. In 2009, anti-psychotic drug sales reached 14.6 billion dollars.

Since 2003, the FDA has helped Big Pharma cover this discrepancy by approving some of the anti-psychotic drugs for the minor mental ailments prescribed off label earlier.

The FDA is working further to help Big Pharma improve business during this economic turndown. They are planning on making statin and other prescription drugs available over the counter (OTC).

The thinking is that many are trying to save money by avoiding doctor visits to obtain prescriptions for those drugs. Most insurance programs, including Medicare, require co-payments that can cost more than what they'd pay for the drugs OTC.

This plan will allow bypassing doctor visits and letting patients run to the drugstores to stock up (http://www.naturalnews.com).

Government and private insurance companies are clamping down on medical errors

New policies by Medicare and private insurance companies will hopefully diminish medical errors. Both government and private insurance companies have started withholding payments for procedures done with medical errors. This policy also prohibits the hospitals or doctors from charging the patients directly.

This move from government and private insurers is forcing doctors and hospitals to think twice before each procedure, even when it comes to washing hands.

So whenever someone amputates the wrong foot, works on the wrong eye, leaves a scalpel inside a body after an operation, or administers the wrong IV, nobody pays for the procedure. That'll teach 'em - maybe.

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